'Perry Mason is an enigma I never get tired of'
Talking books with Sydney Michael Atkins, Vice-Principal, GEMS Our Own English High School, Al Ain
What book(s) are you reading right now?
I am currently reading a book my students gave me for my birthday, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak. It was a finalist for the 2019 Booker Prize. I have read other books by Elif, too, and find hers to be a remarkable voice for the silences and the silenced of Turkey. Her voice is moving, so is her craft.
A book that changed your life, and why.
I could give you a whole list of books that changed my life. One of them is Mindset by Carol Dweck. Her theory of the two mindsets and the difference they make in outcomes is incredibly powerful and underpins a lot of my personal and professional actions.
Name one underrated book, and why you'd recommend it.
Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window is a children's book written by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. The book - set against the backdrop of an unusual school in Japan during the time of World War II - was a sheer delight and will take the reader on an emotional rollercoaster ride. I would recommend it highly for parents and anyone who is in education. The world will be so much better if we could see what this book tries to say so simply yet beautifully.
Your favourite literary character, and why.
Without doubt, Perry Mason from the Earl Stanley Gardner series of cases. I have read every single one, and have childhood memories attached to him. My mother who is a fan, too, may have had a lot to do with my love of the character. Other than his sleuthing, I think the thing I always found fascinating about Perry Mason was the mystery about who he was outside of work. His personal life was really never explored in the books. He is a brilliant enigma that I never get tired of.
A book quote that really stood out - and what it means to you.
"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting." The Alchemist. Pretty much sums up my personal philosophy. Not enough of us appreciate the fact that we have the choice to make a dream come true and therefore don't always take advantage of the freedom to carry out our passion. The quote instils hope; it is a reminder that we are not always victims of an unforgiving fate. We are, in fact, builders who can make any dream a reality.